In his first big league season, Chris Paddack dazzled, posting a 3.33 ERA in 26 starts while striking out 9.8 per nine innings and recording a .237 BABIP that was well under of the league average. He was restricted to an innings limit, but the restraints are off as he heads into his second year.
I need to preface this with that I believe Paddack will be an ace-like pitcher for several years in the Major Leagues, but I could see the league adjusting to him in 2020. Fangraphs has him pegged for a 3.87 ERA year in 29 starts with a 9.66 K/9 and improving his WAR from 2.4 to 3.2 from last year.
Even great pitchers like Zack Greinke and Jered Weaver experienced the dreaded sophomore slump but went on to have fantastic careers. The former posted a 3.97 ERA during his rookie campaign in 2004 but was knocked around in his second season, finishing with a 5.80 ERA.
Weaver’s stats during his rookie year in 2006 were comparable to Paddack’s – 2.56 ERA and .237 BABIP – but finished with a 3.91 ERA and .312 BABIP in his second year. As noted, I could see a similar situation for Paddack in 2020, and Fangraphs projects an uptick in his BABIP (.290).
It boils down to how well he can adjust back to the league, but he has the right pitching coach in Larry Rothschild to help him develop into a superstar:
"“He’s old school, man, and we connected really well,” Paddack told AJ Cassavell of MLB.com. “I’m really excited to pick his brain, just because he’s been around some elite athletes, elite pitchers. He knows this game. He knows what it’s like to be in those October runs.”"